Over the Memorial Day holiday last weekend, left-wing blogger Vern Nelson ran a blind item disclosing the fact at the Ocean View School District had, in his words, “divorced” Rainbow Environmental from their contract with the school district. The piece was un-cited and unsourced and also included a serious bit of news that the district would also be actually targeting other local districts to convince them to cut ties with Rainbow. Quoting Nelson: “That’s 25 sites in the district, most of them with trash pickup – this’ll cost Rainbow something like $100,000 a year; but there’s a meeting coming up of the presidents of the “big 7” school districts currently using Rainbow, and OVSD will make the pitch for all of them following suit – THAT would cost Rainbow closer to a million a year.”
Big 7? An outright coordinated attack on a public company by a local school board? What is going on here?
OVSD Trustee President Gina Clayton Tarvin at left, pictured with left-wing blogger Vern Nelson, who originally published the story of the district split with Rainbow Environmental Services.
After being questioned about his story’s provenance, Nelson finally conceded that his source for the story had been OVSD Trustee President, Gina Clayton Tarvin, who has been waging an all-out social media war on the company for just over a year. (Whether he questioned her about details surrounding the plot to unite districts against Rainbow is unclear–it was not in his piece.)
On Tuesday following the holiday, I contacted Rainbow and requested any kind of proof to back up the story. They sent me this letter. When several OVSD mouthpieces questioned how a letter could be released so quickly, I confirmed with Rainbow that anyone could have requested it and received it immediately. It’s no big deal. Yet it becomes the focus of some of their arguments and challenges, perhaps to avoid having to deal with the things that matter.
As you can see, the letter is dated May 4, almost a full month before the information was leaked by Clayton-Tarvin to Nelson. This news does not appear to have been an agenda item in the month of May nor did the trustee president share the news during any of her many Facebook sessions, which she conducts primarily within a closed group called the Ocean View Town Square; a group formed by a Nashville blogger named Pat Mahoney, who as of late has been working in close tandem with Nelson, cross linking and sharing stories (more on him later).
Reading the letter, several questions jump out:
- Was this a board decision and was there a board vote?
- If not, was the full board even notified before the letter was drafted and sent and who drove the process?
3. Why wasn’t the public made aware when the letter was sent?
4. Why would no reasons for cancellation be given in the letter?
5. Who is driving the upcoming coordinated attack against Rainbow?
6. Is the attack subject to a board vote?
7. Will there be any public discussion of this attack campaign?
8. Why was this blogger chosen to leak the news over a holiday weekend? (a “writer” given to irresponsible insinuations about people and notoriously inaccurate”reporting”)
9. Days after the decision, “Sponsored” Facebook ads from Clayton Tarvin began popping up, touting the move of services. Some of us wondered if taxpayer money was being used on the ad campaign, and if so, did the board approve the advertising expenditure?
Fair questions it seemed – but not to her– she quickly responded in a closed Facebook group, the one Mr. Mahoney created:
The problem is–nobody accused her of anything. Questions were merely posed. Invoking a first amendment argument? Based on what? Who challenged her freedom of speech? Answer: Nobody. It’s called a deflection. And her lawyerly response still doesn’t answer the question directly-did she pay for this out of her own pocket? She says she chose to “run” them- not “pay” for them. And how personal is this issue if in fact she is now self-funding an ad campaign to go after a public company (especially in light of all the free media she received the week)? Also, given her statement that “there’s been a year’s worth of false allegations against she and the board,” shouldn’t she be now required to detail exactly what those “patently false” accusations are so that they may be challenged?
Also, a moment later in that same closed forum, Mahoney jumped in to support her false charges–also stating unequivocally that she is using her own money. How could he know this for sure? Again, she isn’t that clear in her own statement.
(More on his efforts to protect her later in this piece.)
It just gets more and more peculiar. In a normal world, a school district canceling a trash contract to go with another vendor would hardly be any sort of news. However, when you look at how this is being handled, it calls these, and other things into question, not the least of which is transparency. This school board has been quietly laying groundwork for a taxpayer-funded bond as high as $500 million, based on a resolution they unanimously passed recently.
So if ever there was a time for transparency, it is now.
On Tuesday, May 31, I contacted Superintendent Carol Hansen and Deputy Superintendent Michael Conroy, who wrote the cancellation letter. I posed several basic questions related to the news and requested interviews. I followed up several times via email and as of five days later, not one of the messages had even been acknowledged. In fact, two other residents that told me they had emailed very similar questions to the district were also ignored in the same time frame.
NO REPLIES: L-R, OVSD Superintendent Dr. Carol Hansen, Trustee President Gina Clayton Tarvin and Deputy Superintendent Michael Conroy
NEXT, I looked to see if Trustee President Clayton Tarvin had perhaps Tweeted anything about the decision, given her amount of social media activity. This happened when I checked her Twitter feed:
Blocked from even seeing her posts–an elected official blocking a citizen from even viewing her official school board account.
Transparency? She took huge issue last year when Assemblyman Matthew Harper blocked one of her acolytes. But now it’s ok to target exactly who is allowed to read your official school postings?
This past week, both Clayton Tarvin and her close associate, board trustee John Briscoe, were interviewed for a pair of local newspaper articles. The subject of how the decision was reached was never broached although Briscoe did reference the same attack campaign that Clayton Tarvin shared with Nelson:
“Briscoe said he believes Ocean View is the first school district in the county to independently sever ties with a trash hauler, and said his district might rally others in Huntington Beach to consider their options and cost savings.”
Other than pure spite over the long-standing battle over getting Rainbow enclosed, what would prompt such a threat? Is this what they were elected to do? How on earth does this benefit the staff, students and families in the Ocean View School District? And does the new company, CR&R know anything about this planned attack (and how would they benefit from it?)
On Wednesday, I reached out to Rainbow/Republic and requested an interview. I was immediately put in touch with Russ Knoke, Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs at Republic Service, which owns Rainbow. I asked about the cancellation and, at the request of a local parent, if Rainbow would be ceasing any of the school programs they help fund/underwrite as a result of the district’s action. He explained emphatically that they would not be. He also addresses the long-overdue enclosure status. Here is our full discussion which runs approx. ten minutes.
This entire episode thus far, beyond the obvious transparency issues, I believe also calls into question the ties of Clayton Tarvin to two bloggers who now seem to be working in tandem to both vigorously protect and promote her (while viciously and dishonestly trying to smear citizens that dare question what, in my opinion, is her increasingly aggressive community organizing.)
In addition to Nelson, who has taken to regularly posting glowing coverage of (with apparently unfettered access to) Clayton Tarvin, the aforementioned, Nashville-based Pat Mahoney has joined her fight in the last several months, with an ugly, obsessive campaign against myself and others, feverishly blogging thousands of miles away under the aliases “The Garbaginati,” “Johnny Cookies,” and “Johnny Cook.” At least those are the aliases we know about.
Mahoney, according to his public LinkedIn profile, is the Executive Vice President & General Manager at a NY-based merchandise company. He has stated that he moved to Nashville from Huntington Beach in the last year, and since last fall, has posted dozens of his dark screeds, (many named for Duran Duran songs, including “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” “Out of my Mind” and “View To a Kill”) from all over the world.
This selfie was included from a post of his in March of this year.
This is a shot of him from the UK around the same time from another blog post:
Mahoney’s cryptic, angry and threatening assaults on anyone having to do with holding the board accountable have reached toxic levels by almost any definition (both publicly and privately). Again, all citizens are doing is asking questions of an elected official (and in some cases asking her to stop her alleged behind-the-scenes personal attacks).
For the last several months he has posted thousands upon of thousands of words, maligning not just myself but city officials, district parents, the city attorney, school volunteers, local businesspeople and others, comparing them to the mafia and spewing inferences about conspiracy after conspiracy without ever answering the baseless, paranoid, arguably delusional accusations he casually tosses out. Allegedly, Gina Clayton Tarvin had been spreading lies that I actually work for Rainbow as some sort of secret operative. I actually asked a former Rainbow rep to come admonish Clayton Tarvin at a board meeting for her dishonesty, which she did. Clayton Tarvin said nothing in her own defense, just glared. Yet Mahoney now spreads the same egregious lie about myself, and others. Never any proof, just enough six-degrees-of-conspiratorial-separation inferences to make a chem trail believer proud.
He actually attempted to organize a boycott of the incredible event that benefits the Friends of the Children’s Library (because I was an emcee), he admittedly took part in helping to get a longtime school volunteer relieved of her duties (a volunteer that criticizes Clayton Tarvin, coincidentally), and he deeply embarrassed a local high school principal by completely misrepresenting her words in a public forum. And he does not even live in this city where he is inflicting so much pain. Creepily, he assigns nicknames to his targets, like “Squeaky” and “The Shine” — I’m know as “Charlie,” according to him, in honor of — Charles Manson. He has even created a separate website which is nothing more than a gallery of hundreds upon hundreds of comments I’ve made on Facebook over the years. No context, just page after page random remarks, carefully clipped and organized.
Many of his verbal assaults directly invoke Clayton Tarvin’s name. What sort of elected official would not formally, publicly separate themselves from this behavior and also ask that it stop? Perhaps a complicit one? In a move eerily reminiscent of something Clayton Tarvin was accused of by a private citizen, Mahoney is now digging up personal information on his perceived enemies and posting that as well to do nothing but shame them.
He also has started personally contacting a number of people that have arranged speaking engagements for me, bizarrely bringing up OVSD issues to people that do not even live in this state (to which I keep getting asked–“Who is this lunatic?”). A number of his associates have also taken up the letter writing, sending vulgar, scurrilous lies about me to these same public speaking contacts and then linking back to Mahoney’s website in their notes. (In particular, I was saddened that my good friend, 90-year old Huntington Beach matriarch Norma Gibbs was subjected to one of these shocking letters before I spoke at her church. She was terribly shaken over this. That is what this group is doing in this city.)
It’s all about shutting down any opposition to this elected official. And these are some sample posts of Mahoney as both “The Garbaginati” and “Johnny Cookies.” Note how Clayton-Tarvin’s name is continually invoked:
Also note how he says I’ll “die early” if I don’t “sort this sh– out.” (To those that have been following this situation and have inquired, Mr. Mahoney’s monomaniacal behavior has been brought to the attention of local law, city and school board officials. And in my view, along with many others, this absolutely does constitute cyberstalking.* How else to interpret messages like the following:
On his Twitter account (now banned by Twitter for violating their harassment rules with his attacks against me) he referred to himself both as the “Huntington Beach Equalizer” and “Psycho.”
Yet Clayton Tarvin, an elected official who directly oversees thousands of children along with teachers and staff, regularly corresponds in public forums with him, partakes on his “Garbaginati” hate site and is clearly aware of who he is. Here is one of a number of screen captures that place her on the page (that is her photo at left, in the sunglasses, part of a meme Mahoney had created in her honor):
As Mahoney has expressed, he is a friend/advisor to her. So does she support his behavior? Would she even allow him to set foot on school property? How can a public official in charge of children not be concerned with this association? Or worse, is she is feeding him insider information such in the way she leaked news to Vern Nelson over Memorial day weekend? As his assaults continue and widen (as they are), more families in Huntington Beach become increasingly concerned about what he will do next. Does Gina Clayton Tarvin care about those people in the same way she fights for other residents? If so, then she needs to address this.
L-R: left-wing blogger Vern Nelson, Trustee President (up for re-election this fall) Gina Clayton Tarvin and Nashville resident Patrick Mahoney, aka “The Garbaginati,” “Johnny Cookies” and “Johnny Cook.”
As far as both of these bloggers’ increasing roles within the district’s propaganda machine, I think its fair to ask, is it appropriate? Is the entire board involved with these two characters? Or is this simply a one-woman show; a community organizer running amok; more consumed with vindictive personal politics, secretive information sharing and hidden agendas than with actual school issues? The public has a right to know the answer to this, especially since the district is now on the record about expanding their attack on Rainbow in a way that certainly has the potential to impact every resident.
Her most faithful supporters will probably say that I am being “spiteful” by reacting (again) to her strange and unprompted attacks against me and others. But this is not about me. It’s about accountability and transparency by a school board. It’s about an elected official seemingly overstepping the boundaries of her position. And it’s about the associations of an elected official.
Finally, here’s an interesting quote from the piece in the OC Register this week:
“Some community members have suggested that the dispute between Rainbow and the school district has become personal. Clayton-Tarvin and Briscoe refute that. “Nobody has anything in for Rainbow,” said Briscoe. “When they fix it up we should do business with them again.”
So in other words, this has nothing to do with the company’s actual service. It’s a punishment of sorts. So is the upcoming campaign against them, along with her supposed self-funded ad campaign all part of the same punishment? If so, then we are watching a ruthless, taxpayer-funded school board vendetta play out right before our eyes. On the heels of the same school board looking for potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. And the entire city has every right to be very concerned about this.
You may write district superintendent Dr. Carol Hansen to voice your concerns about any or all of this. Of course, no telling if you will get a reply. firstname.lastname@example.org